Fasting plasma metabolomic profiles are altered by three days of standardized diet and restricted physical activity

Metabol Open. 2021 Feb 6;9:100085. doi: 10.1016/j.metop.2021.100085. eCollection 2021 Mar.

Abstract

Objective: Few studies have examined the effects of participants' diet and activity prior to sample collection on metabolomics profiles, and results have been conflicting. We compared the effects of overnight fasting with or without 3 days of standardized diet and restricted physical activity on the human blood metabolome, and examined the effects of these protocols on our ability to detect differences in metabolomics profiles in adolescent girls with obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) vs. sex and BMI-matched controls.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 16 adolescent girls with obesity and PCOS and 5 sex and BMI-matched controls. Fasting plasma metabolomic profiles were measured twice in each participant: once without preceding restriction of physical activity or control of macronutrient content ("typical fasting visit"), and again after 12 h of monitored inpatient fasting with 3 days of standardized diet and avoidance of vigorous exercise ("controlled fasting visit"). Moderated paired t-tests with FDR correction for multiple testing and multilevel sparse partial least-squares discriminant analysis (sPLS-DA) were used to examine differences between the 2 visits and to compare the PCOS and control groups with the 2 visits combined and again after stratifying by visit.

Results: Twenty-three known metabolites were significantly different between the controlled fasting and typical fasting visits. Hypoxanthine and glycochenodeoxycholic acid had the largest increases in relative abundance at the controlled fasting visit compared to the typical fasting visit, while oleoyl-glycerol and oleamide had the largest increases in relative abundance at the typical fasting visit compared to the controlled fasting visit. sPLS-DA showed excellent discrimination between the 2 visits; however, when the samples from the 2 visits were combined, differences between the PCOS and control groups could not be detected. After stratifying by visit, discrimination of PCOS status was improved.

Conclusions: There were differences in fasting metabolomic profiles following typical fasting vs monitored fasting with preceding restriction of physical activity and control of macronutrient content, and combining samples from the two visits obscured differences by PCOS status. In studies performing metabolomics analysis, careful attention should be paid to acute diet and activity history. Depending on the sample size of the study and the expected effect size of the outcomes of interest, control of diet and physical activity beyond typical outpatient fasting may not be required.

Keywords: Diet; Metabolomics; Physical activity; Polycystic ovary syndrome; Study design.